Non-Governmental Organisations

Recommendation adopted on 28 January 2009

Instituting a “European Year of Voluntary Action”

The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe,

Referring to:

    - its Resolution on Voluntary Action as adopted on 25 June 2008;
    - Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1496 (2001) on “Improving the status and role of volunteers in society as a contribution by the Parliamentary Assembly to the International Year of Volunteers”;
    - the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union (May 2007), and in particular paragraph 50 stating that the contribution of civil society to achieving the objectives shared by the Council of Europe and the European Union will also be encouraged;
    - the European Parliament resolution of 22 April 2008 on the role of volunteering in contributing to economic and social cohesion;

    - the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union (6 and 7 February 2008) on the contribution of volunteering to economic and social cohesion;

    - the European Economic and Social Committee opinion (SOC/243 – 2006) on “Voluntary activities: their role in European society and their impact”;

Defining voluntary action as:
1. an activity in which the individual freely engages of his or her own accord and which must not be compulsory in character;
2. an unremunerated activity (for no financial return other than payment of expenses incurred);
3. an activity which involves commitment outside one’s personal environment or social group to helping create a closer community through useful work, as a key aspect of democratic citizenship;
Considering the incalculable value for society and the public good of voluntary action, the common features to be found in the various forms of voluntary action throughout Europe but, at the same time, unequal levels of development;
Noting in particular that voluntary action has a real influence on democratic life, the active citizenship of Europeans, sustainable development, self-fulfilment and the physical and mental health of volunteers, formal and informal training and education, skill acquisition, the production of wealth, intra-European mobility, intercultural and inter-faith dialogue and social cohesion;
Calls accordingly on the Council of Europe and the European Union to jointly declare 2011 “European Year of Voluntary Action”.